Source : 05/06/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo
Hundreds of people flocked to an art-deco landmark in Northampton over the bank holiday to look at new plans for its future.
Over the next year, the former Cannon cinema in Abington Square will become the biggest Jesus Army Centre in the country.
The historic building was opened to the public to showcase plans to preserve and rejuvenate the tatty 1930s treasure, which closed as a cinema more than seven years ago.
Jesus Army elder, John Campbell from the organisation's Nether Heyford base, said: 'We had quite a few people from the Jesus Fellowship and some people who used to work here.'
Visitors were given a tour of the former cinema and were told how a £3 million overhaul will transform it into a massive worship and support centre for homeless, disadvantaged and lonely people.
The bulk of the work will focus on the main auditorium which has holes in the roof and patches of graffiti after years of standing empty.
The stage where The Beatles played in 1963 is being extended and extra raked seating is being added to join the auditorium to the circle rows creating a huge worship centre.
Mr Campbell said: 'When we came here there were pigeons inside. We had to evict them and a lot of work has been done clearing up.'
He said the centre would be staffed by Jesus Army volunteers offering help and support, particularly to the homeless.
'People can drop in and we will be able to help with the material provisions of food, drink and blankets,' he said.
'Long-term, the most important thing is to help people build relationships and friendships, especially with people who have been in their situation and understand what they are going through.'
The centre will also be used to hold worship, informal meetings and could be hired out to businesses, community groups and theatre companies.
Mr Campbell said: 'This centre will be open for anyone whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them.'
The Savoy Cinema, which later became The Cannon, opened in 1936 with a showing of Broadway Melody.
A report in the Chron said the building was 'the last word in comfort, splendour and modern equipment'. The building could hold 1,954 people.
In the main auditorium an organ would rise up in front of the stage and music would be accompanied by thousands of flashing lights at either side of the stage.
In the 1970s, two smaller cinema screens were added.
In 1995, the cinema closed its doors for the last time after a showing of Pulp Fiction.
A recent survey of historic buildings by English Heritage described the Cannon as one of the few remaining examples of a 1930s purpose-built 'super cinema'.
Parts of the building will be named after cities and towns in the UK where the Jesus Army has its greatest 'calling'.
Two small cinemas will become function, conference and training rooms which can be hired out to businesses.
The main auditorium will be renamed the Northampton Community Theatre.
The work will cost £3 million and the Jesus Army is hoping to raise £1 million of that through fund-raising over the next year.
The first landing will be home to a café, counselling rooms and information displays.
People will be able to train at the centre in literacy, where English is a second language, numeracy and IT.
'Back of house' will be turned into a practical area for homeless people including a medical room, wash and shower rooms, a laundry facility and a safe place for valuables.